Recently, I’ve had several people mention a quote from Steve Jobs to me.
“People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”
I think he makes an excellent point, though not exactly what the people mentioning it to me may have thought he was making. It has to do with not using PowerPoint as a crutch, and with how we approach problems. Here’s the full quote from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs:
“…and they would come with thirty people and try to show PowerPoints, which Steve didn’t want to see,” Schiller recalled. One of the first things Jobs did during the product review process was ban PowerPoints. “I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs later recalled. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”
While it seems people are keying in on the bit about not needing PowerPoint, what he’s talking about is about using a presentation as a substitute for a solution – or at the very least, a discussion. Steve was a dynamic presenter and believed enough in the importance of presented information that he had Apple build Keynote – a strong presentation tool in its own right.
Yet the point is an important one. People get to work on creating slides instead of thinking through and providing solutions. Instead of spending your time creating a bunch of busy slides, know your material from top to bottom. Be able to speak extemporaneously about it and have the slide be nothing more than a heading or a visual to illustrate the idea. Have insights, ideas and solutions and be ready to talk about them.
Unless you are presenting to an auditorium of people, your presentation should be a dialog, not a monolog. A complicated slide gets in the way of that dialog. Keep the slides simple. It will let you speak the subject instead of reading the slides. Bottom line: don’t use PowerPoint as a crutch. A simple and powerful idea is easy to illustrate and even easier to present.
Know your story from top to bottom. Then, when you go to make slides, make ones that Steve Jobs would be proud of.